[theme-reviewers] Grandfather Themes?

Sayontan Sinha sayontan at gmail.com
Wed Jun 26 16:58:42 UTC 2013

As the author of a highly customizable theme framework myself, I have often
faced this situation where I have been forced to remove something that has
been a staple part of my theme for years. It has gotten so frustrating that
I have stopped updating my theme altogether because the effort to remove
something from the theme and then support thousands of users on my support
forum is just not worth it. The fact that my theme has had the second
highest number of downloads (behind Atahualpa) of all non-default themes
(i.e. TwentyTen, TwentyEleven etc.) just makes it worse. Hence I fully
sympathize with you.

During the last release I had to take out a bunch of shortcodes from the
theme in spite of 2 significant points:

   1. I had earlier built a plugin for the shortcodes just to support users
   moving away from the theme. Modularization has always been a strong suit of
   my theme, wherein any component that can cause issues upon switching themes
   is released as a plugin (These plugins are actually even mentioned on every
   page of my theme's site)
   2. All shortcodes anyway use my theme's slug as a prefix, and users
   would be consciously making the decision to include any shortcodes in their
   content. Moreover, some of the shortcodes I had were quite unique in
   facilitating layout options.

After a long debate where I realized the admins had made up their minds and
didn't want to consider any dissenting opinions, I removed the shortcodes
from the theme, and then all hell broke loose on the support forum. I knew
that some of the stuff was being used, but the true number of users of the
removed shortcodes only became apparent when the support queries hit.
Luckily my shortcodes plugin had already been in place for some time, so it
was just a question of pointing the users to the plugin. Regardless,
dealing with the support was not really a picnic particularly with numbers
as large as my theme's user-base. But hey, that isn't the WPTRT's problem,
is it?

I am used to seeing the developers lose such battles because the themes
with the widest user-bases typically go against the WP philosophy
("Decisions not options"), and the decisions made on this forum typically
sideline such theme developers. So assuming that you will lose this debate,
I will offer you a suggestion: first, as suggested by prior posts, release
your shortcodes as a plugin. Then use the plugin activation code that Otto
offered on this forum some time back (it is pretty small, and a good
replacement for the TGM plugin activation code), and offer your plugin
through that on your theme's admin pages. Of course, this does nothing to
alleviate the pain you and your users face during the transition, but as I
said, the WPTRT doesn't think of that as a problem worthy of consideration.


On Wed, Jun 26, 2013 at 9:46 AM, Bruce Wampler <weavertheme at gmail.com>wrote:

> This is one way, but I'm pretty sure it will fail the RTFM test. It is
> very difficult to get the users to read anything.
> But, at least as an interim bridge, how about changing this idea a tiny
> bit.
> If I understand the overall reasoning, the main (only?) reason to disallow
> "plugin territory" features in a theme is the difficulties of switching to
> other themes.
> Why not allow themes to have "plugin territory" features IF the theme
> author also provides an alternative plugin that provides compatibility for
> those features to other themes?
> I did this for my Aspen theme - but the plugin doesn't work as nicely with
> other themes because of design and theme integration issues, but they come
> very close. (If you can't duplicate features of a shortcode in a regular
> plugin, does that take it out of plugin territory?)
> On Tue, Jun 25, 2013 at 2:16 PM, Chip Bennett <chip at chipbennett.net>wrote:
>> You could, of course, create your own Plugin that has such functionality.
>> Alternately, you could recommend existing Plugins for your users to use.
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Sayontan Sinha
http://mynethome.net | http://mynethome.net/blog
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